February 2, 2005
WSGC Newsletter for Educators
The Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium's electronic newsletter for teachers provides curriculum ideas, Internet links and other resources to help you better meet the Washington EALRs and the National Science Education Standards.TABLE OF CONTENTS
-- GROWING GALAXIES IN YOUR OWN CELESTIAL BACKYARD (6-12)
-- AFTER-SCHOOL ASTRONOMY GRANTS
-- ANCIENT OBSERVATORIES WORKSHOP POSTPONED (3-12)
-- FOLLOW HUYGENS ON TITAN
-- GLOBAL PROBLEM-SOLVING CONTEST (K-12)
-- NASA FREE COMPUTER MODEL AVAILABLE
-- THE SANDS OF MARS
-- NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION WEEK
On Feb. 12, Cheryl Niemela, NASA HEASARC ambassador, will lead a free workshop introducing galaxies, their formation and their sizes. You will discover that not only are there different types of galaxies, but that many active galaxies show evidence for black holes and dark matter.
The workshop will take place 12:30-4:30 p.m. in Puyallup. The workshop highlights several NASA missions, along with their amazing discoveries. Participants will receive the NASA classroom materials used in the workshop. Clock hours are available. For more information, go to
Raytheon Corporation has established an After-School Astronomy Club (ASAC) grants program to help clubs with materials and other resources to increase their enjoyment of astronomy. Ten to 15 grants will be issued per year to qualifying clubs.
To qualify for a $500 grant, clubs must register at the ASAC website, join the chat group, and send in an activity the club has tried or would like to try. Once that's done, send ASAC an e-mail describing the club's plans for the money. Grants take about a month to process and mail. To participate, go to
The Feb. 5 workshop, "Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge," has been postponed due to illness. The workshop featuring Dr. Julie Lutz research professor of astronomy and director of the NASA Educator Resource Center will be rescheduled. For up-to-date information and registration, visit
The website for the Cassini-Huygens has the latest updates on the landing on Titan. Scientists reported that "the first look at data from Huygens' descent and landing on Titan shows the Saturnian moon has Earth-like essical processes operating on exotic materials in very alien conditions."
The website includes links to a kids' page and the European Space Agency. To visit, go to
The VINNY Awards, named after Leonardo da Vinci, is a global video contest. Student teams research a common global problem such as pollution or food distribution, then produce a one-minute video explaining how science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics are can be used or are being used to solve it.
Teams must be composed of students within the same grade range (elementary, middle, or high school). Videos can be produced in either English or Spanish. This means there are six categories, each with a prize. The competition is sponsored by NASA Langley Center for Distance Learning, Christopher Newport University, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Applications are due by February 15. The video and written materials are due by April 1. For more information, visit
The Educational Global Climate Model (EdGCM), available for both Windows and Mac, incorporates a 3-D climate model developed at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. It wraps complex computer modeling programs with a graphical interface familiar to most PC users.
The climate model allows teachers and students to conduct experiments identical to those scientists run on supercomputers to simulate past and future climate changes. For more information, or to download EdGCM, go to
For more information about climate study in the classroom, please visit
Driving, digging, mining these are things astronauts will be doing one day in the sands of Mars. It's not as simple as it sounds.
The problem is, even here on Earth "industrial plants don't work very well because we don't understand equations for granular materials as well as we understand the equations for liquids and gases," says James T. Jenkins, professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. "That's why coal-fired power plants operate at low efficiencies and have higher failure rates compared to liquid-fuel or gas-fired power plants."
NASA scientists are trying to answer these questions so astronauts on Mars may one day mine the raw materials that they need to return home. For the whole story, go to
National Environmental Education Week takes place April 10-16. The National Environmental Education & Training Foundation has posted a variety of resources to help teachers prepare for the week and for Earth Day, as well as environmental lesson plans for the regular classroom. For more information, go to
Ideas, comments and Web sites of interest to other teachers should be sent to Irene Svete, newsletter editor, at
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